CIA Exam Pass Rate & Scoring

Get the CIA exam pass rate and learn how the exam is scored.

Compared to the pass rates of the CFA, CPA and CMA exams, the Certified Internal Auditor exam is one of the harder credentialing exams in the accounting field. On average, nearly six in 10 candidates fail the CIA exam.

CIA Exam Pass Rate, 2014 – 2017

2014: 42%

2015: 39%

2016: 40%

2017: 42%

The CIA exam pass rate is published by the Institute of Internal Auditors.

The CIA Exam, while computer-based like the CPA and CMA Exams, is scored much differently—and understanding how a passing exam is scored goes a long way to explaining why the CIA exam pass rate is so low. Understanding the exam’s scoring will also help you to prepare an adequate study plan.

The Exam’s Structure

First off, the CIA Exam consists of three parts. The first part of the CIA exam consists of 125 questions and 2.5 hours of time. Parts 2 and 3 both have 100 questions and 2 hours of time for you to complete the exam. Even though there are different question totals and time limits, you still have roughly 72 seconds (or 1:12) to answer each question.

The CIA exam differs from the CPA exam in that it is NOT adaptive, meaning the difficulty of the questions does not change based on your prior answers. Each question is scored equally and carries equal weight—and there is no penalty for incorrect answers.

The passing mark is “ideally” set at 75%, so you need to answer 75 of the 100 questions correctly to pass. However, the exams become more difficult in Parts 2 and 3, which is part of the reason the CIA exam pass rate is so low.

Accounting For Exam Difficulty

In 2013, the Institute of Internal Auditors introduced a new grading system that determines the passing score differently for each exam part. So while 75% “correct” is the minimum for passing the exam, the actual number of correct questions required to pass is different for each part. So for questions that are determined to be more difficult (on Parts 2 and 3), you may only need to answer, say, 70 out of 100 correct to pass.

The point is that you should not focus on reaching a minimum passing score but in as learning as much of the CIA curriculum as possible and trying to answer all questions to the best of your ability.

Your Scaled Score

Because the exam is totally computer based, you’ll receive your unofficial score immediately upon completing the exam.

Your exam score will not be shown as a percentage. Instead, it is converted to a scale score with 600 being set equal to the passing mark (roughly 75%). Your results will clearly read “PASS” if you scored above 600. If you failed, you’ll see a numeric score on a scale between 250 and 600 so you can understand how close you came to passing.

Now that you know the CIA exam pass rate and how the exam is scored, it’s time to get studying! To access the Wiley CIAexcel Test Bank free for 48 hours, sign up for our free trial here.